VIOLET MENGO, Lusaka
THE use of Information Communication and Technology (ICT) in schools has potential to give learners a head start to their future.
By learning how to use the internet to do effective research, puts the learner a
step ahead in the heavily competitive global economy. For this reason, being conversant with ICTs in the 21st century is seen as a basic skill needed not just for personal development, but for the benefit of the nation and global economy too.
It was against this background that the Ministry of General Education in 2015, introduced ICT as a compulsory subject in primary schools in accordance with the revised curriculum of education.
However, initially, the move was not supported by the required facilities for teachers to provide tutorials.
At the time, most schools lacked computers and electricity, whereas in rural areas teachers were also inadequate to match the number of learners.
The move was received with mixed reactions by learning institutions and academicians.
Two years down the line, the implementation of ICT education in schools is slowly, but surely paying off.
Ministry of Education spokesperson Hillary Chipango explained that the ministry is working with the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) to ensure that all schools in rural areas are electrified to facilitate ICT education.
He said in areas where there is no electricity, pupils will only do theory, until their communities are have access to power and are supplied with computers.
“We are doing relatively well in the provision of computers to schools across the country despite the beginning being bumpy. So far, the distribution of computers has continued,” Mr Chipango said.
In August last year, Government distributed over 6, 000 computers to secondary schools across the country to facilitate computer studies.
Recently, an additional 1, 000 computers were distributed to schools in different parts of Zambia. Mr Chipango said the distribution of computers will continue until all schools have been catered for.
He said the ministry has partnered with the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA), who are assisting with the supply of computers to the schools in need.
Business houses and individuals too have been donating desktop and laptop computers to enhance ICT education in schools.
Mr Chipango further said teachers have undergone ICT training and the exercise will continue to enable them teach computer subjects from a point of knowledge.
Zambia Union of Teachers (ZNUT) general secretary Newman Bubala commended the ministries of General Education and Higher Education for their determination to ensure that teachers adapt to the use ICTs in school.
ZNUT had initially objected to making ICT education compulsory on the basis that pupils in rural areas would only be able to do theory, while those in urban areas would have an opportunity to do both theory and practical.
He said ultimately this would disadvantage pupils in rural schools. However, the union has now changed its position on the matter.
“The beginning was not so good, but so far, there is determination by the ministry to provide (desktop) computers and laptops to schools across the country,” Mr Bubala said.
Mr Bubala says the union has been following the implementation of ICT education keenly and are impressed with government’s determination to make it a success.
He urged Government to consider alternative sources of energy such as solar to ensure that rural areas have consistent supply of electricity for computer studies.
“We all know that we can use Wi-Fi using the available providers such as Vodafone. What is required is to look at ways of making it cheaper to (reach) rural areas,” Mr Bubala said.
Scholars who are conversant with ICTs are able to obtain learning materials and conduct research at the click of the button. Providing access to the internet in institutions of learning has helped many scholars achieve academic excellence, thus equipping them to provide solutions to issues that their communities may encounter in the future.
It is ZNUT’s desire that the use of ICTs in schools will help Zambia attain quality education that is inclusive in line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number four.
SDG number four talks about ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and promoting lifelong learning.
“There is need to ensure that the budgetary allocation to education is increased to make it possible to increase infrastructure and train more teachers for quality education to be a reality,” he said.